Emily Blunt remembers the day when sound died.
It was a routine day for the Abbotts, the family at the center of the 2018 sleeper horror hit A Quiet Place. In the opening minutes of the sequel, A Quiet Place Part II (out March 20), we see Evelyn (Blunt) and her kids driving around as the father, Lee (Blunt’s real-life husband, John Krasinski), walks about town. First, a strange, muffled noise comes over the radio station. Then they arrive: giant, vicious, spindly mutants that hunt through sound. What follows is a chaotic sequence that Krasinski, who returns to write and direct Part II, shot in a single, uninterrupted take. “[Everything was] choreographed down to a fine art,” says Blunt, 36, who literally had a front seat to the madness of cars crashing, people fleeing, and a runaway bus barreling down the street.
When Krasinski first described this flashback to his wife, Blunt knew she needed to return for Part II. The first installation offered hints about how these beasts arrived on the planet, but not much beyond the film’s premise: a family living in silence to avoid detection. Through this new scene, “you really get a sense of what the world was and what the family was before it all happened,” Blunt says.
At first, neither one felt A Quiet Place needed a Part II. Paramount met with other filmmakers to expand on the movie that made them $340.9 million worldwide, against a reported $17 million budget. The first film was Krasinski’s “love letter” to his two children, “as crazy as it sounds,” says the star, 40. “I totally understood why the studio wanted to do a sequel for financial reasons. I didn’t want anything to do with it because, weirdly, as much as I’m the writer-director, I’m also a huge fan of this movie. I didn’t want to be a part of anything that would be viewed as a cash grab.” So what changed? The producers asked Krasinski to at least write an outline, he recalls. His kernel of an idea grew until he found himself “Jedi-mindtricked into directing this thing.”
The concept was so compelling, Blunt says “it became very apparent that we’d be idiots not to do it. Ultimately, you will never catch the [same] lightning in the film, but there is a bigger world.” Adds Krasinski: “[In] sequels you have a hero or villain that you have to bring back and put in a new world. Well, the converse is true for us. We have this amazing world that you can put any hero or villain in.”
As you might imagine with something called A Quiet Place, plot details are hush-hush. But if the original grappled with What would you do for your kids?, the sequel becomes about those kids growing up. Returning as Evelyn’s deaf and resilient daughter Regan, Millicent Simmonds, 17, takes more of a leading role, stepping into — spoiler alert! — the void left in the wake of Lee’s death at the end of the first film. (He appears in flashbacks in Part II.)
The monsters still roam, but the Abbotts must tiptoe beyond their now-destroyed home. The outside world is something Krasinski hinted at in the first film when the characters spot multiple fires in the distance. “Even not knowing there would be a sequel, I just thought we have to let people know that there are other people alive,” he says.
Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) and Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy) play two of those survivors. Murphy’s grizzled appearance suggests his character took a very different path in the apocalypse from the Abbotts’. “[Our] family has support, they have an entire system of living, and most importantly, they have love,” Krasinski notes. “If you are alone and you’ve seen the negative effect of the world, you lose hope.”
Murphy’s role, in that sense, represents “survival in its purest form, which is really, really dark,” Krasinski adds. You don’t know what’s going to happen when he meets the family, which now includes the newborn boy Evelyn birthed the night Lee died. As for the man played by Hounsou, he’s “doing slightly better.” According to the director, “his character found a way to live somewhat similarly to our family, and you have to figure out why he was able to do this.” For Blunt, one of the big themes is, “How far would you go to extend your hand to your neighbor?” she says. “I think that fractured sense of community that we’re probably feeling on quite a global scale now is quite nice to talk about.”
With one sequel already on the table, could there be another? Those conversations haven’t begun, Krasinski says, but he has ideas—some of which may be hinted at in this movie. Right now he’s just dealing with a few “very core-level anxieties” as he hustles to finish Part II in time for release. “I hope people think the movie is as good as I think it is,” he says, “because I had the same anxieties that [the fans] did when I heard they were making a sequel: ‘Why are they doing that?’ Hopefully I answered that question.”